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Our Game Mass Market Paperback – January 31, 1996

67 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Le Carre's latest-which revolves around a breakaway attempt by Chechnya and a former British agent's attempt to track down his double-crossing old protege-was a PW bestseller for 13 weeks.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

YA?Another tautly written, well-researched spy novel from LeCarre. The Cold War is over. The Russians are our friends. Consequently, spy handler Tim "Timbo" Cranmer and his specially groomed double agent, Larry Pettifer, are put out to pasture. Tim, a somewhat stolid and unimaginative civil-servant type, has removed himself and his much younger mistress, Emma, to his late uncle's vineyard in Somerset, while the idealistic Larry is uncomfortably ensconced as a professor at Bath University. Then Larry and Emma disappear. They have apparently run off together. They have also apparently relieved the Russians of more than 30 million pounds. The British police, guessing at Tim's previous occupation, and the Russians, knowing it, suspect Tim's active participation in, or at least knowledge of, the scheme. All parties concerned attempt to force him to reveal the whereabouts of the fugitives, which he honestly does not know. He does, however, still possess some of the skills of his former profession, and in a suspenseful journey through England, France, and finally Russia, he tracks down his friends while eluding his followers. In the process, readers learn much about the dissident Russian regions and some pre-and post-Stalinist history. An engrossing, exciting spy story.?Susan H. Woodcock, King's Park Library, Burke, VA
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (January 31, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345400003
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345400000
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #524,868 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John le Carre was born in 1931. His third novel, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, secured him a worldwide reputation, which was consolidated by the acclaim for his trilogy: Tinke, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; The Honorable Schoolboy, and Smiley's People. His novels include The Little Drummer Girl, A Perfect Spy, The Russia House, Our Game, The Taileor of Panama, and Single & Single. John le Carre lives in Cornwall.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Gregory Oakes on August 30, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
As Le Carre has matured as an author, his books have had less and less to do with with satisfying genre requirements and more to do with exquisite character portraits and the authors own concerns. This is not to say that his story telling abilities have suffered, but Le Carre has always been subtle, and in "Our Game" his subtlety reaches new levels.

The protagonist, Tim Cranmer comes late to the important things in his life. All the "action" has already happened in this novel - many of the important events in this novel are past memories, either remembered in flashback (or revealed through interrogation). Other main events are discovered by Cranmer as already happened as he picks his cautious way through crime scenes or recent battlefields. Even love, or his recognition of it, has come to him late.

So Cranmer's quest is his attempt to discover his real past so as to provide him with a future, or at least a present. Le Carre's writing is at the peak of its form. Sometimes drol, often witty, always poetic and wonderfully intelligent, his writing captures the humanity of its character and the inhumanity of the uncaring world in deft strokes.

This is not a novel of gunplay, hi-tech espionage, car chases and narrow escapes. Neither is this a George Smiley novel. They were written almost 30 years ago and the author has moved on. This novel sits outside the genre of the spy novel, whose vague trappings the author hijacks for his own uses. The ending, which some people may not like as it is not "neat" and "final" is wonderfully unresolved, just like life.

I read this book when it was first released and have just reread it. In 10 years time, I will probably read it again. And probably enjoy it even more.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME on January 17, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In Britain, retired civil servants are typified by life in rural cottages, pottering about in a rose garden and Sundays with The Times. Tim Cranmer doesn't quite fulfill the picture. His "rural cottage" is an inherited spot of land containing a chapel. His rose garden is a struggling vineyard. And Sundays are occupied by visits from his former protege. Instead of a demure wife to complete the picture, Tim's resident lady is half his age and a composer. Hardly the picture of a staid bureaucrat out to pasture. Perhaps all these variations are due to Cranmer being other than a "retired civil servant" - he's a retired spook.

Spies never truly retire. They may distance themselves somewhat from the sharp end, but there are always loose ends left over and old cases that resurrect themselves. The dissolution of the Soviet Union was supposed to put ranks of spies from the West [and John Le Carre] out of work. They were considered poorly adapted to the new conditions. Le Carre and his literary creations have refuted that notion. His "retired" spy becomes enmeshed in a conspiracy of stupendous scope. It seems his protege, who was a double pretending to spy for the Soviets, is involved in an embezzlement - 37 billion BP, to be exact. The money is to finance a war of "national liberation" - a little item of ethnic minorities having faith in their identity. Their location is in the ramparts of the Caucasus Mountains, where loyalties are fierce, but the population scattered. Lacking resources, they seem to have convinced Cranmer's double to help finance weapons' purchases.

Larry Pettifer, Cranmer's long-term protege, is an intellectual. He changes ideologies like his socks. A consummate wheeler-dealer, he duped his Soviet minders for many years.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Billyjack D'Urberville on October 16, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This sleeper is one of Le Carre's best efforts. For years he struggled with the theme of the romantic triangle, in the early and only partially successful non-spy book, The Naive and Sentimental Lover, and as deep background in the Smiley trilogy. But here he finally masters the subject, the end of the cold war giving the writer freedom to first stretch out to cruising speed, then take off full speed to parts unknown. It is still, loosely, a spy book, giving the story narrative tension and interest. But it really is obviously something from the heart, just a fine novel for those who love the novel. Sentence for sentence, paragraph for paragraph, the proof is in the pudding. It's one of Le Carre's best.

Tim, the "retired" spy is one of Le Carre's best characters ever -- cuckholded by his own Joe, the happy sappy college professor Larry. The wit and bite flow between every line as the evidence dawns on our protaganist, against where his imagination wants to go, where his ditzy but beloved girlfriend has gone. No one has written more clearly about pure mad infatuation. The rural background allows fun and games with Le Carre's grab bag of spycraft, which loyal readers will be happy to find is hardly exhausted. The hero's search for Larry and his girl defies genre -- comic, tragic, noir, surrealistic, gritty realism -- all at once. The destination: unchartered territory, fueled by both human curiosity and passion.

This book will not satisfy all readers, particularly those who want genre or more obvious lessons. The puzzle only grows but this website wisely counsels against giving away the ending in these reviews. It would not give you the bigger answers anyway: if there are indeed any.
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